The Madras high court on Thursday stayed the lookout circulars issued against former union minister P Chidambaram's son Karti and four others by the Centre under the Passport Act over a corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Justice M Duraiswamy granted the interim stay when petitions filed by Karti and others seeking to quash the circulars came up for hearing and directed the central government to file its counter by September 4.
Others who got the interim relief are Karti's associates C B N Reddy, Ravi Viswanathan, Mohanan Rajesh and S Baskar Raman.
The Foreigner Regional Registration Officer and the Bureau of Immigration under the Union home ministry had issued the circulars against Karti on June 16 last and against the four others on July 18.
In his petition, Karti contended that the lookout circular was part of the central government's 'political vendetta' and issued 'arbitrarily' and without jurisdiction to prevent him from travelling abroad.
He also said he had responded to the summonses issued by the CBI in connection with the case and there was 'no absolute cause of action' for issuance of the circular.
The case related to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds when Karti's father was the finance minister in 2007.
Opposing Karti's plea, the Centre had told the court that after the experience of liquor baron Vijay Mallya leaving India, it has become imperative for it to issue the look out circular against him (Karti).
Incidentally, Karti has filed a fresh petition seeking quashing of the circular since the earlier one filed on August 4 had mentioned the date of the circular as July 18 in respect of him.
During the previous hearing on August 7, the judge had directed Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan, who appeared for the Centre, to furnish a copy of the look out circular to Karti and adjourned the matter to Thursday.
Based on the copy of the circular, Karti filed a fresh petition which came up for hearing on Thursday.
Senior Supreme Court counsel Gopal Subramaniam and Satish Parasaran, representing the petitioners, and the ASG made elaborate arguments following which the judge passed the interim order staying the circulars.